Family

Family

This week, we celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary. We are also celebrating our happy healthy baby and new family. It may seem little but we are super proud of it. It’s been a rough four years. No one tells you when you’re first setting out about how hard it is, how you will not take off into the sunset in a carriage with unlimited resources.

They don’t tell you you’ll struggle after college, that a good job isn’t guaranteed– despite what your “advisor” told you. They don’t say that there are days you won’t “feel” love. They don’t mention that your spouse might end up in a trauma unit, even if he’s perfectly fit. They don’t mention that miscarriages happen to healthy young women. They don’t mention your baby might die in labor, even though your pregnancy was stellar. They don’t mention the bills are real– they come every month and can pile up– especially after a job loss or change.

But they also don’t mention this. When you’ve had a horrible delivery, but you watch your husband hold your son for the first time–decked out in a surgeon cap. They don’t mention how happy you’ll be when you watch your baby sleep or hear him snore. They don’t mention how you’ll hold a new bond–the three of you, and how much love you’ll have. Or even the amazing adventures you’ll go on together, despite life’s imperfections.

Somehow, because of the roughness and the growing pains, these fleeting moments are precious.

 

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Family, Growth, Personal Development

For Better Or Worse

Today marks four years of marriage for us. During this time, I’ve learned why the vows are what they say. During this time, I learned the weight of those words. We have had richer and poorer, sickness and health. We’ve felt the better and the worse.

This is going to be brief. But basically my message is this. If you hit moments in your marriage where you question, doubt, don’t know if you’re doing something right, you’re in good company, most of us don’t. But day by day you learn. You learn more about your spouse but mostly yourself. Just like motherhood is new and when you start, you won’t have it figured out, you won’t in a new marriage either.

So today, trust the process, love your spouse and give yourselves permission to not have it all together. None of us truly do; don’t give up.

‘Til death do us part.

Change, Family

Breaking Comfort Zone

Missing my little guy very much.

But this is important.

Tonight we watched the Falls together and took in the beauty. It wasn’t the perfect time. It’s not the perfect of circumstances. It’s last minute (so not me). But here we are.

Normally I’d protest and say I’m too tired to go at night, let’s just chill in the room, read a book, stay in the life-numbing comfort zone. “We’ll go do that next time…” I would always say. But we didn’t wait for next time, we saw the Falls again at night, and fought against the comfort.

Because if we can take one thing away from the recent tragedies of this life, it’s that the perfect day may never come. We get one life. Only one.

Go enjoy your “Falls” at night. The book and comforts will still be there. Fight through and choose to explore.

#noregrets #trendingtruth #onelife

Family, Mom Life

Learning to Let Go

I swore I’d never be “one of those moms”. You know, one of the ones that gets upset when their kids go away or aren’t with her. The one who will have perfect balance instead. I thought I was immune to missing my child. But truth is, none of us are.

So today I pack my baby’s bag for a week to spend with Grandma. It’s great that family wants to help, it’s great that we have some family still around. But yet, it doesn’t feel like a vacation, it doesn’t feel like a “break”. It feels, at least initially, like my heart is ripping out. Because for all the blow-out diapers, for all the food spilled and the sleep lost, I wouldn’t trade in my little guy for anything. His giggles, his farts, the way he snores like an old man when he sleeps, I’ll miss it… for the next week, I’ll miss it. And mamas, that’s okay.

Our day in and day out routines are filled with many things, but it all really revolves around raising these little people. We are responsible for these little humans all the time. It’s a hard switch to turn it off, for me at least, probably you too. It’s a paradox; I want a break, but I want my baby too. But sometimes letting go and getting some time to ourselves, once we cry a bit, is a good thing.

So here’s what I do to make it easier:

  1. We meet during the day so it’s not super heart-wrenching.

I found it really hard to wake my baby in the night to go into a family member’s car and drive away. It felt like someone was taking our baby. I know it wasn’t the case, but it felt that way. So if you have to be away from your little people for work, or so they can see family and you can’t come along, do it during the daylight hours so it feels less gut-churning.

2. We meet in a place that’s not a home, a restaurant or a store.

When we met at our home, it felt like someone was taking him from us, yet again. Meeting somewhere felt like we were going to an outing and would “see him later”.

3. We make plans for the next week so we distract ourselves with being, primarily, a couple again.

Sometimes looking forward to the non-baby activities you can now do, is a great way to distract yourself. We found planning a dinner date, going to the movies or doing something else, really helped us to reconnect and feel less upset.

4. If you’re not ready, it’s okay.

And most importantly, if you’re not ready, you’re just not ready. There’s nothing wrong with wanting your kids around. Or perhaps, they have a shorter trip to visit family. Sometimes, that’s a good way to ease into it. I know there was a time where I really wasn’t ready, but I didn’t want to disappoint family members. But mamas, that’s not okay. It’s you and your baby and your spouse FIRST. The family has to work around you guys. Sometimes that involves using a confrontational word. No. But it’s your new family, your new schedules, your feelings. Ya’ll come first. Listen to your instincts.

Awareness, Family, Female Entrepreneurs, Mom Life, Persevere

Best Days

“Oh, honey… enjoy this. These are the best days of your life.” Falser words could not have come flowing from anyone’s lips than these did when they hit my ears. And yet I heard this, all. the. time. My ears still ring when I think about it. Talk to any new mom, any mom at all, and tell her how awesome new motherhood is, go ahead, I dare ya. Then just watch her face. I promise you, if she’s anything like me, she’ll twitch. And I hear ya, these well meaning folks, they want you to treasure your time and your family. But statements like these, feel about as awkward to me as putting on last years’ bathing suit.

I guess what bothers me most about the sentiment is how dishonest it is. New moms hear a lot of weird garbage if we’re being real, and we are pretty thick skinned. After all, we did go through 9 months of beyond awkwardness and unwanted belly-touching. But to have a place of candor to talk about how weird it all is, really refreshes me and maybe you too. When I think about the truth of new motherhood–I think of massive changes. Every change that could possibly happen, your marriage, your money, your work, your friendships, your body,  your home, your career… it is ALL different. You wonder if you’re doing it right, you wonder if you’re co-workers will think less of you, if you’ll get fired, if your spouse still feels the same way, if you’ll lose those final and stubborn 10 pounds of baby weight… it just keeps going. And all day, every day, there’s a television screen in your mind just swirling with all the changes and things you need to do. And when we tell that same mom who underwent massive changes in such a short period of time, the woman who can’t remember if she brushed her teeth today or who just cleaned up a massive blowout diaper in her car on the way to work, “These are the best days…” no wonder she doesn’t get it — she’s a finalist in the series of Survivor. She’s the zookeeper to the animals– making sure they stay safe and no one throws any poop.12141658_1026342174076669_3828444627179536575_n

So in the spirit of being truthful, tell her something different perhaps. Say something like, “It’s hard to be a new mom–I remember, but it will be worth it,” or maybe, “Is there something I can do to help?” Better yet, ask to get her some coffee. Because when you’re brand new to all of this change, and it hits you like a truck full of bricks, all you really want is to be understood and for some genuine heart-felt help.

Family

Top Things I Learned After Having a Newborn: Infant-Care Myths Destroyed!

So when we decided to have a baby, we figured it would no doubt be a lot of work and a big change. Like any “good” parent would, we went to childcare classes at the hospital. Of course, that should have been a wealth of information, helping new parents to figure out their new bundle of joy. We were in for a real surprise…

Babies will only cry when they need something. Attending to those needs will make them less fussy.

Haha! This couldn’t have been more wrong. I remember the third night being home with my husband and baby and wondering what was going on with our child. We changed him, burped him, fed him, and yet he was wailing. “What haven’t we done??” Greg uttered. And so, we put him in his napper and waited and let him cry. Within ten minutes, he was asleep. It was then we realized, that sometimes babies are just little people and they cry. As long as their needs are met and they are checked on, let them cry and learn to soothe.

-Babies should sleep in the parent’s room for the first few weeks to a month.

This we tried as well the first few nights. We tried a large bassinet. Neither worked. First, we found that our baby really liked feeling cozy and not having room to move around in the bassinet. So we found a napper that vibrates and is about the size of a car seat, which he loved. I also found that having the baby in the same room as us, made me more on edge because any snort, coo or cry, made me turn my head. Today, there are such great baby monitors that have cameras and intercom systems. So we took our boy into his room, have the camera pointed on him. This also made me feel more normal. I’m still able to be with my spouse in the other room and have a healthy separation from our little guy, without compromising his needs.

-The best way to feed your baby, is breastfeeding directly.

Well that’s all fine and dandy, assuming your baby will nurse. Some babies, like mine, didn’t want to and would only take a bottle. So instead, we decided to pump instead rather than continue on a road that wasn’t going to work. I don’t feel like I bond any less with my son because I use a bottle, he bonds with whomever is feeding him. At the hospital you will be pressured to constantly try to breastfeed, but do what works for you and your child. It’s the best that you can do and what works that is best, not what the pushy lacation consultants say, they aren’t the parents of your baby.

-It’s best to stay home with your child for a while, they need their parents at first, all the time.

It’s all about balance and moderation. I admitted to myself after the first week post partum, that I could not stay at home all the time with my baby. I just could not. I needed to work, to get out with my husband, and to feel more human again. There should be no shame nor stigma if a mom wants to work, to get back to her routine or to use help. Having help and others watch my son was what prevented me from losing my mind. Not only is it great for your child’s family because they get to interact with him but it’s good for your child too.

Learn your baby over time, and know that what works for your family and keeps your baby healthy… that’s what’s best.

 

Career, Family, Female Entrepreneurs

The “Mom Guilt”; It Started Early

To be honest, I had a very easy pregnancy. I wouldn’t say I “loved” being pregnant, but I was able to be fairly normal and myself right up until the end. I couldn’t relate to those that were having a tough time getting around or others who had to leave work early. I worked up until the bitter end and loved every moment of being in my routine and in my own element.

Then I was told I’d need to be induced due to low fluids…and so my labor began and it was a difficult one to say the least. But we all managed and recovered. Three days after my C-section, I felt a little sore, but again, fairly normal and returned to being more myself in the weeks that followed delivering my son.

He could not have been more cute if he tried. The cooing noises he made, the little snorts and fidgets, it was all adorable, and I loved it. However, after about a week and a half post delivery, all I wanted was my normal back, my routine. I loved spending time with him, bonding with him and my husband and watching all the new skills he learned. But I felt like I was losing myself by only being with him.

I had always imagined that I’d take a full maternity leave, that somehow that’s what good moms do. It’s like this invisible pressure, if you love your kids and want to take good care of yourself, you’ll take the time to rest. And I’d always assumed that I’d want that time to sit it out and rest. But after that week and a half passed, it became two weeks, and I was ready to not be home. I wanted to see my co-workers, to be needed, to run some errands, something!

I didn’t want my identity to somehow be lost.

And as I had those feelings, I started to feel really guilty. Because wouldn’t a good mom want to stay home? I mean, wouldn’t they take more time to be home, after all, they aren’t little forever?? Why go back to work after only two weeks post delivery, who does that?? All those thoughts plagued me and it took a lot of time taking to friends and family to get them out.

But I finally came to the conclusion that if I feel better and fulfilled, I’ll be a better mom. For some women, that may mean being a stay at home mom, or taking a longer leave. For others, they may feel like they need to get back to work, even part time just to get their bearings back. It won’t look the same for every woman, and I never thought this would be me, but I think it’s the best decision I could have made.

When I come home, I’m a bit more fresh for my son, I appreciate him more, and I feel more put together since I was prepped for work, instead of being in sweats all day. When I come home, I see him playing with his Grandpa and Nana, and how happy they are to share love with him. Motherhood, it’s a challenge that nothing can prepare you for. But I believe it wasn’t meant to take over or to be done alone. Use the people and resources you have so that you can start to feel like yourself again too. There’s nothing more useless than a burnt out mother who resents her children because she tried to do it all or to be something she’s not. So if you’re the stay at home mom, embrace it. And for those who really want to get back to work, go for it–it doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy your children when you get home, and it doesn’t make you less of a mom.

Do motherhood your way.

 

 

photo credit: http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Guilt&view=detailv2&&id=82C2E2F678DDC901340752E0435ECDD17DB72323&selectedIndex=17&ccid=jCzbcWnl&simid=608053802902291952&thid=OIP.M8c2cdb7169e58a97a50a431cb849c33fo0&ajaxhist=0.

Family, Impact

Lessons From My Father

I think it would be realistic to say that most people think they have the “best Dad” or “best Mom” in the world. And to whoever makes that claim, for them, that’s probably their truth. For me, I won’t say I have the “best Dad” in the world; that statement is so over used, it’s on key chains, mugs and ties. No, reader, I have the most honorable dad in the world. And what he gave my sister, and me is truly unique and unparalleled.

If you knew my dad much, you’d know that, for the most part, he’s soft-spoken, with a quiet demeanor. It’s rare to see him rattled by anything. I remember a time when we were returning from a trip to visit his family in Buffalo, NY and his car broke down. Luckily, my husband and I were riding right behind him and pulled over to assist. The hood of the car was smoking and clearly had a huge issue. My dad just looked at it, called for a tow truck, and said, “Well, I won’t be driving home in this today. Can you guys bring me home?” He said this so nonchalantly, so calmly. My husband told me, after we dropped off my dad, three hours later, “You’re dad is so calm, so unrattled. I wish I could be more like that.” It’s true. Whenever I saw my dad upset, it lasted for maybe five minutes. When he was done being annoyed, he’d go outside with a big grin and play “fetch” with the dog. He never let life get to him, or events throw him off being joyful and putting his priorities first, his faith and family.

Some of my friends had the type of dad who didn’t do much with them, or worked too much, or worse–drank excessively. That just wasn’t my experience. Everyday at 4 p.m., my dad left his engineering job at the State and drove right home. When he opened the door, the dog became elated, jumping up to great him. He would look over to my sister and I doing our homework and say, “Hey girls, how was school? Whadya learn?” He always asked us, each day, with a smile and hugs and kisses. He’d then fire up the grill and make some “somewhat” edible hamburgers. He never let us have soda or ice cream, unless it was a special occasion. You could drink water or milk–that was it. We said grace before we ate, and the TV was never on when we had family time. It was expected that we’d eat our vegetables before leaving the table. When we were done, we’d all go in the pool for the night. My dad would do strokes, back and forth in the pool–he always kept active. Of all the things my dad ever taught me, most of it was observed and seeing how he lived.

My dad was always an up lifter and encourager, he never put us down as kids. I remember when I joined ski club. I had always gone cross-country skiing with my dad, and I didn’t know downhill skiing existed. So when I joined ski club in 4th grade, I thought I was getting a cross-country experience. Reader–I was not. I strapped on my skis and took off down the mountain at top speeds and nearly flew down to the ski shack restaurant. When I was done with the night of horror–my dad meandered on up to me in his slow and relaxed manner, and said, “So how’d it go honey?” I looked up at him, a little annoyed and miffed and said, “It was awful… I didn’t know this was downhill skiing! I’ve never done that before…” I hung my head and wiped the snot from my nose from crying my tears of defeat. My dad said, “It’s okay kiddo. You’ve never done this before; it’s only your first night skiing. It’ll get better, just stick with it.” And over time, I did. I did ski club all throughout middle school and high school. I wouldn’t call myself “world class” but I can ski most trails with ease. It was the steady encouragement and support of my dad, the never give up attitude that was always so special to me.

In a world where people are mostly angry, annoyed, and bitter, I try to remember to be peaceful like my dad. Every morning he woke up singing and on his knees in prayer for the day ahead. Every day there were hugs and kisses, even though it annoyed my sister and I at the time. Whenever we got hurt riding our bikes, my dad would run to help and get us an ice treat popsicle from the freezer–it was known to be the antidote to any childhood injury. The calm, the peace that he brought to a room and a deep voice of reason to any situation, always made me proud to know he was the one who raised us.

My dad may not be the “best Dad in the world” or “#1 Dad”. But he is certainly the most honorable dad that I know, and the world, my world, is better that he was a part of it.

Family, Growth, Self Help, Tragedy

My Life from an Adidas Bag: A Journey to Stability

To most people an Adidas bag isn’t something too special. It’s what you put your sweaty gym clothes in or what you carry around when traveling. This bag did all of that with me, but it’s more than that. This bag has a story.

When my mother’s mental illness began to “peak” around high school, when it was undeniable and in “full force”, staying at home became an impossibility. You didn’t know from minute to minute if she would be nice mom or angry abusive mom; it was probably akin to living with an alcoholic. My sister and I were at the mercy of her manic episodes. Knowing this, I pursued my driver’s license right away and passed on my first try; I knew what would happen if I didn’t, so I was highly motivated. I would take this adidas bag with me and pack my belongings and overnight items in it as well as my backpack for school. Some nights, I’d stay with my friend Katie, sometimes my friend Sara. Other nights, I’d stay with Jim & Sally and their therapy dogs. I became somewhat of a gypsy, a product of what I’d grown up trying to escape.

The experience that lasted from about age 17 to 21, created an adulthood and an independence in me at a very tender age. From age 12 and on, I always had at least one job. When I started to live with extended family and friends, I usually had at least two jobs. I’d go to school during the day, and then work as a waitress from about 4 to 12 PM, and on weekends, I worked filing at a dental office. I learned the value of work, and work took my mind off what I knew I couldn’t change. I grew up in those years, more than I wish I had. I sometimes regret not being able to go to sporting events with friends, and to not have my mind wonder. I regret not being able to know what it means to “just have fun”, “just be a teenager”. It was hard to relate to my peers, hard to become friends because I felt the need to be so serious, so stoic, so invincible. Truth is, I wasn’t. The truth is, there were days I had such a hard time and I wanted to give up. But I kept putting one foot in front of the other, day by day. Eventually, years later…life started to become a little easier, my past a little less painful, and my future, a little more bright.

When I look back on this bag, it shows me the importance of stability in someone’s life. It’s hard to save money, to do well in school, to stay on the straight and narrow, and to have meaningful relationships, when you feel you have so much to fear, so much to constantly worry about. I was in a constant state of “looking over my shoulder”, listening to the garage door for my mother to come home, and just dreading what would happen next. What a gift it is now, to sit on my couch, to just “be” and to not worry about walking on eggshells. To have the freedom, the luxury, to let your guard down, to simply relax in your cup of coffee, or sit down and read with a good book, it’s such a gift to me now – I’ll never take it for granted. Eating family meals, going to get-togethers, I remember a time when that was so hard for me to do, but now, I fully savor it. But I never forget those days of struggle, they’re a part of me. Now, I have such an appreciation for those constants in life, the stability of friends and family. Slowly, those earlier years, are fading and being replaced with newer and kinder memories, all a part of a greater tapestry that is my life.

Family, Female Entrepreneurs, Impact, Life Balance, Work Freedom

To the Young Working Woman: Here’s Your Dilema

It never really occurred to me, just how much different women have it in the workplace, especially when they drop the pregnancy “bomb”. Now before I lose you because “you’re not a feminist”, here me out. I am the type of person that’s very skeptical of bandwagons, or labels. I don’t subscribe to an area of thought without putting a lot of reason with it, and considering real facts, and not just some inflated numbers to prove an ideological point. However, as I’ve observed my own environments, and those of my peers and friends, I’ve noticed some very troubling news. Yes, there is such a thing as discrimination in the workplace, and no I don’t think it’s everywhere. But it is around more than it should be, and to the young working woman, you should be aware.

This piece isn’t a whine-fest, because I don’t believe in that. I want results, answers, something that I can offer a young woman, a piece of advice. The bottom-line is, you starting a family is not helpful to your employer and literally, invokes fear. It concerns and worries them that you might do the following: leave, get sick, take a longer leave, be disinterested in your work, or not “focus” enough after you’ve come back from said leave. Now, all off these fears are irrational and not based on facts, but they are commonly thought to be true from an employer-business perspective. And for a long time, I saw some merit in thinking that way. For example, how is a business owner to keep maintaining their client base, their project management flowing, and all of the other office duties when you are gone for one to three months? I could see how that would impact a business owner, how that might not be helpful. But then I thought again. What if my male counterparts, had knee surgery, got hit by a bus, or decided to take a month-long vacation? Would they be looked at with the same disdain and disapproval? I wondered…

I think the reason why that’s treated so differently, or at least not as feared by employers, is because pregnancy is such a tangible thing. You have an employee who’s body is changing on a daily basis; it’s concrete you can see that. You can’t as easily see your other staff making life changes, that could just as easily happen. And for male or non-family planning women, it’s just more acceptable. Even if they aren’t as solid an employee, well at least they aren’t going off, growing humans…  They make an assumption based on tangibility and years of connotation regarding women and having a family. But let me tell you something, young women, both professionally and personally, you’re so critical.

What if these same employers looked at what happens to society, when women don’t have the ability to properly bond and raise their children? What employee, after laboring for days, bleeding excessively, getting a major surgery performed on their insides, would ever be expected to reasonably go right back to work? Can you imagine the level of medical trauma and acrobatic skill your body and emotions endure through this process? Do they consider who raised them to be so successful? Women, you give life. And you do it every day whether you’re a mom or not, it’s part of your divine design. Whether you plan a dinner party, a wedding, forge a project or product launch at work, you bring life a vibrancy to the table with a natural poise and grace that cannot be matched. You are needed, necessary, and cannot be duplicated. Side note to mothers everywhere: You are all rock-stars.

Society suffers, when you are cast down. You’re own health and your child’s is at risk when you aren’t able to properly take your leave. Mothers who return to work so early are plagued with depression and less likely to breastfeed their children. Their children can suffer developmentally, the feature notes. Researchers have even found a correlation between the amount of leave a new mother takes and infant mortality rates (Huffington Post). We have a major problem, and it’s bigger than paid leave and day-care costs. Our culture has lost the value of family. We work longer hours, buy more crap than we can enjoy or afford, and have little joy left over. We are tired, stressed and unhappy. Our children, our families suffer the effects. We don’t have family dinner, we rush to the drive-thru for our food and wonder why things are such a mess. I don’t think things will change for women, for children, for families, until we value family again. The government can’t wave a magic wand to make employers care. It’s a cultural value system change, a heart change.

So what can women do in the meantime. What can you do now? I say you realize that you can’t have it all, all at once. You need to take seasons in your life to work, and to also be a mother. There is a time to climb the executive ladder, and a time to enjoy your family. But it can’t happen all at once. You have to make that choice. And I think the best thing for women? Entrepreneurship. Take your talents, skills and abilities, and create something to offer the world. You already have it in you, why not give yourself the gift of freedom and choice? You set your hours, your goals, and call the shots. Sure it’s not easy, but I think it’s the best option for women and gives them the ability to be themselves. And when you do become a business woman, hire some females. Give the same grace to them that you’d want from an employer. Change the culture and reply back, that women working and being able to raise families, they are important callings. Don’t let a boss determine you’re worth, that job is for you only. Don’t lose sight of your power, your skills and your heart.

You have the power to invoke change, don’t forget that.

Photo credit: www.moneycrashers.com